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Concept for Discussion

Regional Housing Initiative


May 2007

Over the last two years, representatives from Kootasca, AEOA, St. Louis County HRA, and
Itasca County HRA have discussed the need for a “Region-wide” approach to addressing some
aspects of housing needs in the Arrowhead.

While the Regional Housing Advisory Group (RHAG) meetings have provided effective
communication, there are many other housing issues that transcend communication:

1. Scale. Our efforts for low-moderate income (LMI), workforce and senior housing are
fragmented among many local entities. Frequently, these are confronted with need for
relatively small scale projects - sometimes in scattered sites, limited or no experience in
the development and management of the specific type of project needed, and funding
sources that view larger projects as more economical and attractive. A region-wide
housing collaborative may be more effective in providing peer to peer technical
assistance or sharing organization capacity across jurisdictional boundaries, and
accessing funding by aggregating projects to address the issues of project scale in the
context of funding source preference for projects of scale.

2. Collaboration. Several of the region’s many housing entities develop and retain expertise
in some particular aspects of housing: development, market analysis, single family, multi-
family, finance, etc. However, these capacities are dispersed in entities across the region
with no one entity possessing them all. A regional approach may be able to facilitate
cross-jurisdictional use of expertise from within the region’s existing housing
professionals. The intent is not to displace local housing project initiatives or staff,
but to offer support through the existing cadre of housing professionals who cannot
currently work outside their funding and jurisdictional boundaries.

3. Funding. Funding is critical to enable the production of deliverables such as:


demographic analyses, writing of funding requests, developing housing proposals, reports
of state and federal programs, new funding sources, regional trends, etc.. Regional
housing would seek support funding for the production of these deliverables through
various non-profit and state/ or federal sources, provided that there is a position and
agency willing to provide the staff resource for these potential funding streams.

4. Liaison. Organizations such as the Minnesota Housing Partnership, Minnesota Housing


Finance Agency, Greater Minnesota Housing Fund and others need a single point of
contact through which to convey their program direction and support for local housing
projects. Conversely, regional housing professionals need a position to convey their
needs, advocate for their interests, and ensure that local housing officials are aware of the
opportunities and programs available through regional and state entities.
Concept for Discussion

Regional Housing Initiative


May 2007

5. Coordination. There are multiple housing organizations in the Arrowhead Region:


Municipal HRAs, county HRAs, CAP agencies, Land Trusts, etc. While not all of these
entities will be interested in full participation in a regional housing collaborative, they
will all benefit from periodic updates about other housing initiatives within the region,
informal advocacy on their behalf, and greater awareness of regional housing needs
among state and federal agencies and their affiliates. Coordination would be more
formally structured among full participants in the collaborative who seek the advice,
counsel and collaboration with other housing professionals within the region.

6. Governance. It is proposed the collaborative become a formal committee of the


Arrowhead Regional Development Commission to functioning in a manner somewhat
similar to the Regional Transportation Advisory Committee (RTAC). (See RTAC
website http://www.arrowheadplanning.org/Default.asp?PageID=151#494 ). The role of
the Regional Housing Advisory Committee would be to formally seek sustaining funds
for their work, seek project and development funding on behalf of regional housing
projects, oversee housing related studies, and establish the RHAC as the region’s point of
entry or principal contact for state/, federal and other housing development entities.
RHAC would seek to establish region-wide fund allocations and develop a process for
the distribution of funding, technical assistance and project advocacy through their
committee work.

7. Is ARDC the appropriate “home” for a regional housing coordinator? While there are
many organizations that could host a regional housing position to support our diversified
housing initiatives and organizations in the region, ARDC does have a statutory mandate
to do so. Please review the following quotes from MN Statutes, Chapter 462:
a. “Purpose: Government Cooperation and Coordination. The legislature finds that
problems of growth and development in urban and rural areas of the state so
transcend the boundary lines of local government units that no single unit can
plan for their solution without affecting other units in the region; that coordination
of multi-jurisdictional activities is essential to the development and
implementation of effective policies and programs; [and] that intergovernmental
cooperation is an effective means of pooling the resources of local government to
approach common problems ..is needed to make the most effective use of local,
state, federal and private programs serving …urban and rural regions...”
“Regional development commissions [shal] work with and on behalf of local units
of government to develop plans and implement programs to address economic,
social, physical, and governmental concerns of each region..”
b. “The commission may appoint advisory committees of interested and affected
citizens to assist in the review of plans, programs and other matters referred by
the commission….and shall appoint such committees as advisory groups to the
commission.”
Concept for Discussion

Regional Housing Initiative


May 2007

ARDC houses the Arrowhead Agency on Aging. A long-term goal may be to establish
the Regional Housing Advisory Committee as a formal and permanent component of
ARDC in a similar manner to the AAA. Since the Aging group does address housing
issues for seniors in the region, there may be significant synergies in hosting the housing
committee staff within ARDC.

More importantly, the Commission is comprised of community leaders and elected


officials who could become active proponents of better public policy, increased funding,
and more effective coordination of housing programs in the region.

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